Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
2 ratings

Tuesday - May 12, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Rooting desert willow (Chilopsis linearis) from a cutting
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I found a desert willow with great bloom color and I am trying to root a cutting. I have never tried to root a cutting but I have read that desert willow is easy to root. My first attempt was in a vase with rooting hormone and the leaves died and I could not see any roots. I did see some very fine hair-like structures that looked more like a form of decay. My second attempt has been in plain water but I have gotten the same result. The first cuttings were before buds appeared and the second had buds on them. Am I attempting this at the wrong time of year? I have set the vase/containers in an area of the house that gets a lot of light but it is not direct sunlight. Any advice is appreciated.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants is going to refer you to the native plant propagation expert, Jill Nokes.  In her book How to Grow Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest (available for sale in the Wildflower Center store and in most libraries and bookstores) this is what she says about rooting cuttings of Chilopsis linearis (desert willow):

"Desert Willow is easily rooted from semihardwood cuttings of the current season's growth taken in late May and June.  The cuttings should be treated with 5,000 IBA in alcohol solution and kept under intermittent mist... . As the cuttings begin to callus and form roots, reduce the frequency of misting to encourage the cuttings to harden off and avoid stem rot.  Cuttings usually root in 2-3 weeks.

Root development is best in a light soil mix rather than straight perlite alone.  Roots tend to be brittle and a soil blend encourages branching." (p.201)

To make a 1.0% solution of IBA (which is 10,000 ppm), dissolve 5 grams of the IBA in 1 pint (16 oz.) of 70% isopropyl alcohol.  To make the 5,000 ppm solution you mix one part of the 1.0% solution with an equal amount of isopropyl solution, according to Nokes. (p.52)

You could also just buy a pre-made rooting gel or powder (e.g.,  Clonex, Rootone, etc.) at a garden center.

Storing the cuttings in your house where there is lots of light, but not direct sunlight is good.  The best temperature range for rooting the cuttings is 70-80°.


 

More Propagation Questions

When is it safe to mow wildflowers in Castroville, TX?
May 26, 2010 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, My yard in Castroville, TX sprouted many wildflowers early in April. By now the Blue Bonnets are seeded and gone. However, I still have a lot of Mexican Blankets. My husba...
view the full question and answer

native plants for landscaping in Honolulu
January 08, 2012 - Hi, wildflower.org has been a great help for me in learning about different plants, their Latin names and characteristics. I was looking for a list of plants (trees, shrubs, ground covers, perennials...
view the full question and answer

Purchase of Galphimia angustifolia from Austin
June 08, 2014 - I have a Thryallis, Galphimia augustifolia, or Thryallis autustifolia, growing from a limestone ledge in my yard in west Austin TX. I have tried unsuccessfully to buy this native. Do you sell it at t...
view the full question and answer

How can I propagate Magnolia trees? Airlayeringg, semi-hardwood cuttings, and seeds.
July 01, 2008 - Hi. My grandmother recently passed away. One of her most prized possessions was her magnolia tree. She absolutely loved that tree. I, along with other members of the family each want to take a pie...
view the full question and answer

Blooming but not berrying American bittersweet from Pendleton IN
May 29, 2013 - I have had a bittersweet plant for years, it blooms but not berries. How do I tell if it is male or female so I can buy the opposite? It is currently blooming.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.